Those of you who have kept up with my sex column this semester know my articles have been on the lighter side and have encouraged sexual connection and exploration. However, this week we need to talk about the importance of protection.
Every piece I have written for Let’s Get Deep has the three basic concepts; communication, connection, and consent being at the core of all three. Without these three concepts being met, sexual exploration and connection with partners cannot and should not happen.
In case it isn’t incredibly obvious, or if you’re just too thick to get it, let me break it down for you. If there is no consent and communication with your partner before a sex act, do not proceed.
Do not do it then apologize later. Do not assume your partner will be okay with it. Do not assume that because your partner said “yes” to one thing they will agree to something else entirely. Do not chalk it up to being in the moment. Do not blame alcohol or any other substance for your actions. And do not blame your partner.
Whether engaging sexually with someone for the first time or trying something new with a long-time sex partner, consent is not something that should be taken lightly or as negotiable.
If there is no consent and there has been no communication between you and your partner(s) this is not a simple case of misunderstanding, it is sexual assault. It is rape.
Some think this definition of sexual assault or rape is too extreme or exaggerated, but that kind of thinking is what perpetuates rape culture and people that dismiss it are what it thrives on.
By normalizing and accepting certain acts of nonconsent, society neglects to label them for what they really are: sexual assault.
With that being said, lately I’ve been seeing more and more about an extremely dangerous “sex challenge” called stealthing. Stealthing is when a sex partner, without the knowledge of any other party involved, removes their condom in the middle of sex.
Although the act has gained a new name and popularity among some in the digital world, the practice itself is not new. It’s just a new language that normalizes and old form of assault.
Some people who participate in stealthing see it as their ‘right to spread their seed.’ Members of this sub-community, who often connect through online forums, were researched in depth by Author Alexandra Brodsky, in the article “Rape-Adjacent: Imagining Legal Responses to Non-consensual Condom Removal.”
In the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Brodsky explains how this sub-community sees stealthing as a male entitlement.
“While one can imagine a range of motivations for ‘stealthers’ — increased physical pleasure, a thrill from degradation — online discussions suggest offenders and their defenders justify their actions as a natural male instinct — and natural male right.”
Reading online comments that support this type of sexual violation made me furious.
Removing a condom non-consensually, even without the intention of ‘spreading one’s seed,’ is a sick and disgusting assault that should be seen as a punishable offense.
But as Brodsky points out, current laws don’t protect against sexual assault acts like stealthing. However, it’s likely that if it were to be prosecuted in court, cases would be resolved like other sexual assault and rape cases often do, with minimum sentencing or no sentencing at all.
Not only do we need to consider this act to be sexual assault, but we also to understand the risks that removing a condom can impose on all parties.
Not only does it disempower and demean the party unaware of the condom removal, but it allows for transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and obviously increases the risk of pregnancy.
This complete disregard for the safety and autonomy of another person is repulsive, and that applies to stealthing and anything else done without the knowledge and consent of sexual partners.
Take precautions and communicate with your partners. Consent is not a joke — do not take it lightly.